In Michigan, Clean Energy Is Here to Stay

Solar Gardens at Grand Valley State University.

Consumers Energy/Flickr

It’s official. When you flipped the switch this morning, your lights were powered under Michigan's new energy laws. The laws were passed last December with bipartisan support, but today they go live. The bills notably preserved and improved aspects of the energy efficiency and renewable energy standards along with long term planning of energy resources. It was a success story—two years in the making—that signaled clean energy and its many benefits are here to stay in Michigan.

Clean Energy Now

Renewables and energy efficiency increased in Michigan after the 2008 energy law put standards in place. Thanks to the original standards, energy waste reduction programs have saved Michigan homes over $4 billion and renewables have brought nearly $3 billion of investment to the state. Combined, that’s over $7 billion dollars in benefits from clean energy. On the job front, the clean energy economy employs more than 87,000 Michiganders in jobs like upkeep and repairs for wind turbines, installing solar panels, and insulating homes.

The former law clearly boasts a track record of success. With the new laws, the hope is that we can continue and increase the number of success stories in the future.

Clean Energy Future

The United States energy resource landscape is changing. Americans across the country are using coal a lot less as it becomes increasingly uneconomic. Michigan is not immune to this trend. The two largest utilities in state, Consumers Energy and DTE, are experiencing the same shift. In the last few years, 18 of their 29 coal plants have retired or been announced for retirement. With an unprecedented number of coal plants retiring, utilities, state agencies, and other stakeholders are asking how future energy needs will be managed.

Luckily, as coal fades, clean energy opportunities grow. Energy efficiency has been repeatedly shown to be the cheapest resource to meet our energy needs. The United States has left large amounts of potential to save energy and money through more efficient appliances, buildings, lighting, and more. As for renewable energy, technology cost reductions, combined with federal and state policy support, can make it cheaper to build a new wind or solar project than to run an existing fossil fuel-fired power plant in some areas of the country. 

Clean Energy Here to Stay

Clean energy is not a fad. Right now, we see Michigan facing an important opportunity to transition to a cost-effective, lower-emitting, and resilient electricity system that delivers real benefits to Michigan families and businesses. The bills enacted today say let’s take advantage of this opportunity. Let’s continue to capitalize on what we’ve seen work for our state. Let’s build an affordable, reliable, and clean energy vision for our state.

About the Authors

Ariana Gonzalez

Energy Policy Analyst, Midwest program

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